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Period Ending October 4, 2019

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This weekly roundup of election news and notes is compiled for Thompson Coburn by the The Ellis Insight.

President

Debates: As preparations continue for the next presidential debate, the Democratic National Committee leadership announced that the next debate from the Columbus, Ohio suburbs will be a one-night despite having twelve candidates participating. In addition to the ten that were on stage in September, the new field will include Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), returning to the forum, and first-time entry Tom Steyer, the billionaire candidate who originally said he would not run but then later changed his mind.

Money Report: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg released their 3rd Quarter fundraising numbers along with several other Democratic presidential candidates. To re-cap, Sen. Sanders led the field with $25.3 million raised in the preceding twelve weeks and Mr. Buttigieg recorded $19.1 million in the commensurate time frame. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced that her campaign had attracted $11.6 million in the 3rd Quarter, while businessman Andrew Yang recorded an impressive $10 million for a previously unknown upstart candidate. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) also publicized that his campaign brought in an additional $6 million.

Tri-State Polling: Change Research, Emerson College, and the Public Policy Institute of California tested three major states for the Democratic presidential primaries and found razor thin margins in two. The exception, Arizona (Change Research; 9/27-28; 396 AZ likely Democratic primary voters), finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) topping the field with 35% support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 19%, former Vice President Joe Biden's 15%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg recording a 13% preference figure. According to these numbers, Arizona is one of Mr. Biden's weakest states while Mr. Buttigieg returns to double digits.

The two others are virtual three-way ties. The Public Policy Institute of California (9/16-25; 692 CA likely Democratic primary voters) sees Sen. Warren barely in first place with 23% of the responding sample, compared to Mr. Biden's 22%, and Sen. Sanders' 21%. The result portends another disappointing performance for Sen. Kamala Harris in her own state as she records only 8% support.

Little polling has been done in Ohio, but Emerson College reversed the trend and just completed a test of the Buckeye State Democratic electorate (9/29-10/2; 353 OH likely Democratic primary voters). They also find a close contest with Mr. Biden claiming first place with 29%, and Sens. Sanders and Warren nipping at his heels with 27 and 21% preference factors.

Virginia Poll: Virginia is another state whose electorate will vote on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, but polling here has been infrequent. The Research America, Inc. firm tested the state (9/3-15; 882 VA registered voters), however, and found that former Vice President Joe Biden has a substantial lead here as he does everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line. According to RA, Mr. Biden records 23% preference, which is a big lead against the rest of the field. Tied for second place with just 9% apiece are Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg trailing with just 5 and 4% support, respectively. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and businessman Andrew Yang follow with 2% support. All others record 1% or less.

Winthrop University Poll: Rock Hill, SC-based Winthrop University went into the field to test the South Carolina Democratic presidential field (9/21-30; 462 SC likely Democratic primary voters) and, like other pollsters, finds former Vice President Joe Biden holding a comfortable advantage. According to the Winthrop results, Mr. Biden holds a 37-17-8-7% lead over Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively. Mr. Biden's strength is clearly in the South, and he again displays a dominant result in what will be the first southern voting state. His numbers are similar in the other recently tested states south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Senate

Arizona: Change Research also tested the tight Arizona Senate campaign (9/27-28; 856 AZ likely voters; 396 AZ likely Democratic primary voters) and, like three other pollsters who have tracked this race in 2019, finds a statistical tie. Change projects retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) to be leading appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R), 47-45%, which is consistent with five other polls conducted throughout the year. Four of the previous five found separation margins of 0 to 2 percentage points, while only one, the OH Predictive Insights August poll, found a five-point Kelly advantage. We can expect this race to remain in toss-up mode all the way to Election Day 2020.

Georgia: Businessman Matt Lieberman (D), the son of former Connecticut Senator and 2000 Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, announced that he will enter the special election for the position from which Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) will be resigning at the end of the year. He is the first individual from either party to declare his candidacy. The special jungle primary is scheduled concurrently with Election Day, November 3, 2020 with a run-off for January 5, 2021 if no candidate receives majority support in the first election.

Michigan: Sen. Gary Peters (D) has considerably improved his standing in the Michigan statewide race according to a just-released Target-Insyght poll (9/24-26; 800 MI registered voters). The data shows Sen. Peters leading Republican John James, the 2018 Senate nominee, 53-37%. The only other reported survey came back in March from Emerson College. At that time, Emerson projected the ballot test as a 44-43% dead heat.

New Hampshire: Saying that President Trump's re-election is more important than his running for elective office, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski indicated that he is less inclined to run for the Senate next year. Early polling suggests Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) would easily defeat Lewandowski, which is undoubtedly another factor in the former political operative becoming disinclined with launching a Senate challenge campaign.

South Carolina: An online Change Research poll (9/17-21; 809 SC likely voters) finds Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) leading former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison (D) by a 50-43% clip. Though the margin appears low for a South Carolina Republican, particularly an incumbent, GOP candidates typically under-poll in the state. Even so, Sen. Graham is beyond the polling margin of error and his advantage is likely a bit stronger than this survey indicates.

House

HI-2: Public Policy Polling went into the field to test presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard in her own congressional district. So far, the Congresswoman has been non-committal about whether she would seek re-election if or when her presidential campaign ends. The survey (9/27-29; 990 HI-2 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Gabbard's numbers acceptable but not particularly strong. It is clear that her constituents want her to end her national campaign. however. PPP finds that 60% of those sampled said Ms. Gabbard should drop out of the presidential race against only 28% who said she should continue.

Paired with state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) in the congressional campaign, Rep. Gabbard posts a healthy 48-26% lead, but she is below majority support within a group that should constitute her political base. Sen. Kahele is an announced congressional candidate and appears willing to stay in the Democratic primary race even if Rep. Gabbard returns.

MN-1: Democrat Dan Feehan, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Defense Department who lost a tight 50.1 – 49.7% contest to now-freshman Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester), announced yesterday that he will return for a re-match in 2020. We can expect another hard-fought campaign to occur in southern Minnesota next year.

NY-22: GOP former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney announced yesterday that she will return for a re-match against the man who unseated her, freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). Though Ms. Tenney made some controversial statements during her tenure in office that contributed heavily toward her defeat after just two years in office, the race was still very close, 50.9 - 49.1%, a difference of 4,473 votes. NY-22 is the second strongest Trump district in the nation that a Democrat now represents, so it is highly likely the Brindisi-Tenney pairing will again be hotly contested.

NY-27: Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/ Batavia), who was indicted on insider trading charges resigned from the House and will enter a guilty plea, meaning the 27th District is now vacant. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has the power to call a replacement special election and says he may schedule the election concurrently with the presidential primaries on April 28th.

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said late this week that she will not return to her Upstate New York home and enter the special election for the congressional seat that she once held. Ms. Hochul won a 2011 special congressional election after then-Rep. Chris Lee (R) resigned the seat. She lost her bid for a full term in 2012 to Mr. Collins in the post-redistricting 27th CD. Gov. Cuomo then selected her as his 2014 running mate.

TX-2: Mike Collier, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor, is reported to be considering entering the race to oppose freshman Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston). While the 2nd District is decidedly Republican (Trump '16: 52-43; Crenshaw '18: 53-45%), fielding Mr. Collier would give the Democrats a credible candidate to oppose the freshman Congressman in this transforming Houston suburban seat.

TX-13: As has been expected for some time, veteran Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Amarillo), first elected in 1994 and a former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced that he will conclude his congressional tenure at the end of this term. He becomes the sixth Texas Republican to announce his retirement.

Mr. Thornberry represents the strongest Trump district in the country (Trump '16: 80-17%), so there is little doubt that Republicans will hold the seat. The Congressman issued a simple statement announcing his retirement saying, "We are reminded, however, that for everything there is a season, and I believe that the time has come for a change. Therefore, this is my last term in the U.S. House of Representatives."

WI-7: Last week Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) scheduled the special election to replace resigned Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) for December 30th with a general election on January 27, 2020. Now, it appears the Governor will have to move the special general. In order to satisfy the federal MOVE Act requirements designed to allow overseas and military voters time to vote absentee, at least 45 days must be placed between elections. Therefore, the January 27th date will have to be moved. Governor Evers will set a new special general election either concurrently with the April 7th presidential primary and statewide election, or shortly thereafter.

Governor

Louisiana: Confirming other recent data, the We Ask America research organization polled the Louisiana electorate for the upcoming October 12th gubernatorial jungle primary. The survey (9/24-26; 600 LA likely gubernatorial primary voters) again finds Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) hovering around the 50% mark but not quite reaching the majority plateau. He scores 47% according to WAA.

In second now is developer Eddie Rispone who has pulled ahead of Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) for second position as this and other polls report. Second place is important because that individual will advance to a secondary run-off election on November 16th if Gov. Edwards fails to reach majority support in the October vote.